Amazon is launching its healthcare business, Amazon Care, across the U.S., expanding its telehealth services beyond its own employees. The services have been available only to Amazon employees in Washington state, where the company is headquartered, for the last 18 months.
Amazon Care is now available to other Washington-based companies and its virtual care services will become available to companies and Amazon employees in every state beginning this summer, Amazon announced March 17.
The healthcare business provides two delivery services––via telemedicine as well as in-person visits, where Amazon Care will dispatch a medical professional to a patient’s home for additional care, including blood draws and offering prescription delivery. Amazon plans to expand its in-person services to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and more cities in the coming months, the e-commerce giant noted.
Amazon has been tiptoeing into the healthcare space over the last several years but recently took the plunge to provide telehealth services to its employees in Seattle. The company also acquired online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 in a deal worth roughly $1 billion.
Amazon was also a partner in a healthcare provider venture, Haven, alongside Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, but the venture, which intended to cover health care for the combined 1.5 million employees across the three companies, recently went belly up.
The telehealth services have been a hit with Seattle-based employees, according to Amazon, which says employees can be connected to a healthcare professional within 60 seconds. The telehealth and in-person visits were especially popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, when employees were more likely to postpone or cancel visits to traditional physicians’ offices.
“I used to always arrive 20 minutes early to my doctor’s appointment because I always had to fill out a lot of paperwork, whether I’d been there before or not. Many times, if I wasn’t there early, they would reschedule me or charge a fee. Even when I was there on time, I still had to wait,” Ashley Bennett, senior operations manager at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Kent, Washington, said in the announcement. “Using Amazon Care changes this and makes me feel like I have more control over the healthcare system than the healthcare system has over me. It’s at my leisure. That’s power. I’m not waiting on someone else to show up on their schedule.”
Amazon Care covers annual vaccinations, healthcare screenings, lifestyle advice and wellness needs, such as nutrition, family planning and smoking cessation.